February 28, 2006
Video from the National Archives
The National Archives recently announced it is working with Google to digitize historic movies, documentaries, and other films from its collection. A number of videos are already available for viewing on the Google video site including documentaries from NASA on the history of the spaceflight program; World War II newsreels; and Department of the Interior films on a variety of topics, such as Boulder Dam, the National Park Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
February 21, 2006
Which majors are smartest?
Interesting post at Political Calculations using the results of 20 years of standardized tests to compare the intelligence of individuals in various disciplines.
Overall, the results generally follow what common sense would predict - engineers do exceptionally well in demonstrating math proficiency but below average in verbal skills (at least on the GRE!) Conversely, we see the opposite pattern for English majors on the same tests, which we would also expect! Overall, the best performances were turned in by
those with degrees in philosophy.
Majors included in the results are biology, business, chemistry, education, engineering, english, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology.
Summers Resigns as Harvard President
Lawrence Summers has resigned as president of Harvard University--he will step down at the end of the 2005/06 academic year.
His tenure at Harvard has been controversial--his comments last year that gender differences between the sexes might explain why there are fewer women n science and math resulted in a vote of no confidence from the faculty. Just this past weekend, the former dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Peter Ellison, gave an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe in which he said Summers should resign. Ellison also gave an example of other remarks made by Summers which concerned him.
Over lunch not long after Summers took over the presidency in 2001, Ellison said, Summers suggested that some funds should be moved from a sociology program to the Kennedy School, home to many economists and political scientists. ''President Summers asked me, didn't I agree that, in general, economists are smarter than political scientists, and political scientists are smarter than sociologists?" Ellison said. ''To which I laughed nervously and didn't reply."
February 16, 2006
Support the SIPP
The Budget of the United States Government for FY07 does not include funding for the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). According to a fact sheet created by the Center for Economic Policy Research, "the SIPP is the only large-scale survey that provides information about the effectiveness of welfare reform, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and other income-support programs".
The CEPR has a sign-on Letter to researchers who are concerned about access to this data.
More information on the SIPP can be found from the Census Bureau website.
February 14, 2006
101 Most Dangerous Academics in America
An article in Inside Higher Ed covers the mixed reaction a new book by David Horowitz is receiving. The book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, is intended, Horowitz says, to expose the "political corruption" of higher education. A coalition of faculty, student and civil liberty groups calling itself "Free Exchange on Campus" has released a statement condemning the list. Organizations in the coalition include the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Campus Progress, Center for Campus Free Speech, and the United States Student Association.
Here's a list of the 101 by college/university
February 07, 2006
The FDA and social sciences
Mark Thoma at Economist's View points to an article in today's Financial Times (available to University of Michigan affiliates via ProQuest Research Library) about the Food and Drug Administration's use of sociological methods to measure perceptions and communication risks.
The agency overseeing food, drug and medical devices is making a big push into social science, according to people familiar with the matter, with the hope of using this expertise to better measure, understand and regulate product risks and consumers’ and doctors’ responses to those risks.
According to the article,
Several current and planned studies by the FDA highlight its early steps to increase use of sociological tools in regulation. The agency expects to begin a study soon on whether coupons and other free offers used for drug advertising in print media affect consumers’ perceptions of the products’ risks. ...
The FDA is also planning a study on how drug-label terminology affects the way people gauge the severity of the potential risk, and one which would assess whether risks and benefits are fairly balanced in broadcast media drug advertisements.